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Bukayo Saka admits he’s pleased to be on the same team as Jack Grealish this week and has named Aston Villa’s talisman as player who impressed him most on his first day of England training.
An inspired Grealish wreaked havoc as Villa won 3-0 away to Arsenal on Sunday afternoon and it was Saka’s own-goal that broke the deadlock in the 25th minute at the Emirates.
Both players will be pushing for a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI versus the Republic of Ireland on Thursday night and a strong performance will do them no harm ahead of England’s Nations League clashes with Belgium and Iceland.
Asked about Grealish’s qualities, Arsenal youngster Saka said: ‘He’s a top player.
‘When I came here the first time he was the player who impressed me the most in training.
‘Before we played against Villa at the weekend we analysed him and picked him out as one of their main threats and he showed it in the game.
‘He was amazing from start to finish, so it’s going to be good to play with him and not against him this week.’
Saka revealed how he was made to feel welcome by England captain Harry Kane when he was called up for the first time before making his debut against Wales last month.
‘All the boys have been so good with me from the first minute I came in,’ he added.
‘Harry Kane put his arm around me, he spoke to me and asked me how I was. For him to do that, it helped me settle in much quicker and made me feel comfortable to be myself around everyone.
‘That helps me not just off the pitch but also on the pitch too, because I feel like I can be myself, express myself and play with the confidence that I play with back at my club.’
The versatile Arsenal teenager is determined to make an impression and strengthen his case for a place in Southgate’s plans ahead of the delayed European Championships.
He continued: ‘It’s been amazing to have the faith of the manager and for him to recall me to this camp. ‘When I got the text, I was so happy again and I just want to do my best here.
‘In the games and opportunities he gives me, I want to give my all on the pitch and I hope I can repay the faith he has shown in me.
‘Games against Belgium are the type of games you want to play in as a player – the big games, the games that mean the most.
‘It’s not just that game, though, every time I get an opportunity to show how good I am, hopefully I can do my best and hopefully get picked for the Euros.